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Schools closed in Sudan amid protests over death of student demonstrators

Sudanese students demonstrating in Khartoum, 30 July 2019
Sudanese students demonstrating in Khartoum, 30 July 2019 Ebrahim Hamid/AFP

Sudanese authorities have ordered schools closed indefinitely after crowds of students took to the streets on Tuesday to protest against the death of six protesters, including five students, in a town in central Sudan.

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Thousands of Sudanese students joined protests across the country to condemn the violent dispersal of Monday's demonstration in al-Obeid, North Kordofan, against fuel and bread shortages.

Five high-school students were shot dead and more than 60 wounded, some by snipers, according to the protest movement and residents.

Demonstrators accused paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of killing the teenagers. Local authorities say they have opened an investigation.

Officials in North Kordofan suspended classes shortly after the violence and imposed a nightly curfew in parts of the province as the main protest group, the Sudanese Professionals Association, called for nationwide rallies against what they are calling a "massacre".

On Tuesday, the official SUNA news agency said that the ruling military council had given orders “to governors of all states to shut kindergartens, primary and high schools from tomorrow [Wednesday] until further notice".

Tensions high

The killings in al-Obeid reignited tensions between the pro-democracy movement, whose protests toppled President Omar al-Bashir in April, and the military council that has ruled since then.

The chairman of military council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, condemned the killings. On Tuesday in an interview with state television, he called on negotiators from both sides to "expedite" the dialogue, given the overall impasse in the country.

The two sides had been set to meet Tuesday to finalise a power-sharing agreement outlined earlier this month, but the talks were postponed after the deaths.

There are deep divisions over a number of key issues, including whether military commanders should be immune from prosecution for violence against protesters.

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